Benjamin Grumbles, the EPA administrator in charge of water quality issues during the Bush administration, now says that a preliminary study done by the EPA should not have been used to deregulate the practice of hydrofracking.
In an interview with Pro Publica, Grumbles says that while he thinks that 2004 study — which was used to justify exempting hydrofracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act –was a valid one, it should not have been the basis for deregulating the industry:
When we got the report, it was a snapshot in time. It was a thorough review describing the issues. Whether it’s hydraulic fracturing or any other type of practice that can have an impact on the environment, one single report shouldn’t be the basis for a perpetual, never-ending policy decision.
It wasn’t meant to be a bill of health saying ‘well, this practice is fine. Exempt it in all respects from any regulation.’ I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of the panel of experts, and EPA never viewed it that way. That’s one reason why we were urging Congress to say ‘look, if you are going to issue an exemption, ensure that it is not perpetual.’
He says that the total, permanent exemption from EPA regulation was not what the EPA wanted at the time, but Congress passed it anyway in 2005.